Lawmakers in Austin are debating the state’s budget for the next two years, and they have yet to discuss a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for state retirees in the ERS and TRS systems.
Retiree union members across the state are pushing lawmakers to take action on this issue! Call members of the House Pensions Committee (listed below) and ask for a hearing on HB 397 and HB 398 by Rep. Alma Allen. These bills would provide a much-needed cost of living increase for both ERS and TRS retirees.
MAKE THE CALL TODAY! Here is a suggestion of what to say:
[sample phone script] My name is _____________ and I’m a retired state employee in _____________. I’m calling to ask Rep. _________________ to work with the House Pensions Committee to hold a hearing on HB 397 and HB 398 by Rep. Alma Allen. State retirees haven’t seen an increase in our pensions since 2001 (16 years!). The cost of living goes up every year for us, especially our health care costs. The average state retiree only receives around $1500 a month. We need an increase in our pensions so we can have a secure retirement. Thank you
Call all Representatives on the HOUSE PENSIONS COMMITTEE:
Rep. Dan Flynn (Chair)- 512-463-0880
Rep. Roberto Alonzo (Vice Chair) 512-463-0408
Rep. Rafael Anchia- 512-463-0746
Rep. Justin Rodriguez – 512-463-0669
Rep. Dan Huberty- 512-463-0520
Rep. Dennis Paul- 512-463-0734
Rep. Cole Hefner- 512-463-0271
Background info on pension increase:
State retirees in the Employees Retirement System (ERS) haven’t received any increases in their pension checks since 2001. And roughly 40% of state retirees in the Teacher Retirement System haven’t received an increase in that long as well. Over the last 16 years, the cost of living has continued to climb every year, especially the cost of our health care. When state employees went to work in public service, we were told that after we put in our time with the state, we would have a good retirement benefit waiting for us, with a secure pension and affordable health care. That promise is unraveling as our pension checks cover less and less of our daily expenses.
In order for state retirees to receive a pension increase, the ERS and TRS funds must be actuarially sound. Currently, both funds are on a path to soundness because of the efforts of union members in pushing lawmakers in previous legislative sessions. Texas can afford to fully fund the pensions and provide an increase for retirees. With close to $12 billion in the state’s “Rainy Day Fund,” lawmakers have the means to make the increase happen this year.